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“En México, no hay evidencia de la bacteria Salmonella Braenderup detectada en EU y Canadá”

– Government of Mexico, September 14, 2012

UPDATE: September 19, 2012. Today, FDA released the following statement:

FDA will continue to collaborate with and share information with Mexican and Canadian health and agricultural officials regarding this investigation.

Several ill persons have demonstrated food histories strongly linked to mangos from Agricola Daniella. FDA worked with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health to understand the epidemiology implicating mangos. FDA testing has detected Salmonella in samples taken from mangos at three distribution centers. The presence of Salmonella in closed boxes of mangos suggests that the contamination occurred with the producer. FDA and the Canadian health officials have worked together to determine that the outbreak in Canada is linked to Agricola Daniella.

After analyzing all of 14 samples taken from the production and packaging areas of Agricola Daniella, Mexico has concluded that there is no evidence of the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak strain that has sickened 142 people in the USA and Canada. Furthermore, a review of the genetic fingerprints of Salmonella circulating in Mexico this year, has led Mexican authorities to conclude that there is no information to link the outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada with any Mexican product.

The full text of Mexico’s statement follows:

En México no hay evidencia de la bacteria Salmonella Braenderup detectada en EU y Canadá

México, D.F., 14 de septiembre de 2012

Comunicado Conjunto

El Gobierno Federal concluyó la investigación para contribuir al esclarecimiento de las alertas de importación emitidas por Canadá y los Estados Unidos de América (EUA) a la empresa empacadora Daniella Mangos, por la posible presencia de Salmonella Braenderup, y después del exhaustivo trabajo de las agencias de sanidad y epidemiología, no se encontró contaminación en las instalaciones de la empresa mexicana por la cepa causante del brote en los vecinos países del norte.

A través de la Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (COFEPRIS), la Dirección General de Epidemiología (DGE), el Instituto de Diagnóstico y Referencia Epidemiológicos (InDRE) y el Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASICA), el Gobierno Federal estableció la estrategia para colaborar en la investigación diagnóstica iniciada por Canadá y EUA en torno a un brote de Salmonella Braenderup, detectado en esos países.

Con la cooperación incondicional de la empacadora Daniella se desarrolló la investigación en sus áreas de producción y empaque, a fin de identificar la presencia de la cepa de Salmonella Braenderup reportada por las autoridades de EUA y Canadá. Se tomaron 14 muestras por duplicado que analizaron el SENASICA y la COFEPRIS y en ninguna se encontró evidencia de la bacteria.

A partir de la vigilancia rutinaria que lleva a cabo el sector salud, el InDRE realizó estudios de electroforesis por campos pulsados (PFEG, por sus siglas en inglés), para la identificación de la huella genética de la bacteria en las cepas de Salmonella circulando en todo el país en el presente año. Este estudio concluyó que la cepa de Salmonella causante de los brotes en EUA y Canadá es diferente de cualquier cepa que circula en México.

En conclusión, los estudios realizados por las autoridades mexicanas demuestran que no se cuenta con información que permita asociar los brotes en USA y Canadá con ningún producto mexicano.

Las autoridades mexicanas se encuentran en espera de que sus pares de Canadá y EUA presenten la evidencia científica de sus declaraciones y se reiteran atentas para continuar colaborando en la investigación en curso.

And the English translation (by Phyllis Entis, with an assist from Google Translate):

There is no evidence in Mexico of the Salmonella Braenderup bacteria detected in the USA and Canada

Mexico, D.F., 14 September 2012

Joint Statement

The Federal Government has conducted research into the possible presence of Salmonella Braenderup at the Daniella Mango packing house to help clarify the Import Alerts issued by Canada and the United States of America. After exhaustive work carried out by health and epidemiology agencies, no contamination was found at the premises of the Mexican company by the strain causing the outbreak in neighboring northern countries.

Through the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (COFEPRIS), the General Directorate of Epidemiology (DGE), the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE) and the National Health Service, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) the Federal Government established the strategy to assist in the diagnostic investigation initiated by Canada and the U.S. about a Braenderup Salmonella outbreak detected in those countries.

With the full cooperation of the packer, an investigation of their production and packaging areas was carried out to identify the presence of Salmonella strain Braenderup reported by authorities in the U.S. and Canada. Fourteen samples were analyzed in duplicate by SENASICA and COFEPRIS, and no evidence of the bacteria was found.

InDRE has reviewed the pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) data gathered during routine monitoring by the health sector to identify the genetic fingerprint of the bacteria Salmonella strains circulating in around the country this year. This study concluded that the Salmonella strain causing outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada is different from any strain circulating in Mexico.

In conclusion, the studies conducted by Mexican authorities show that there is no information to link the outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada with any Mexican product.

Mexican authorities are waiting for their peers in Canada and the U.S. to present evidence supporting their statements and have reiterated their intention to continue cooperating in the ongoing investigation.

Did anyone else hear the “SO THERE!” in that final paragraph?

In its September 13th update on the mango investigation, FDA was very careful to avoid stating what strain (or strains) of Salmonella it had found in mangos from Agricola Daniella, simply reporting that the agency had found Salmonella in “several samples of mangoes” from the producer. Chances are, this reticence is due to the time required to complete serotyping and genetic profiling on the Salmonella strains that FDA found.

Why the apparent difference between the FDA findings and the Mexican report?

There are several factors that are in play, including:

  1. Mexico was careful to restrict its protestation to the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak strain. The Mexican statement said nothing about whether or not other strains of Salmonella were found during its investigation.
  2. Mexico only examined 14 samples. We don’t know whether these were mangoes, samples from the packing house environment, or samples of water used to wash the mangos. Fourteen samples are not enough to do a thorough evaluation of the level of contamination in any production facility or packing house.
  3. The lab method used to analyze the samples can have a significant bearing on the chances of finding Salmonella.

The Mexican position does not surprise me, especially as it is very similar to the position taken by Mexico in the wake of last year’s Salmonella Agona outbreak that was linked to papayas from Mexico.

When FDA issued its Import Alert on Mexican papayas, the Mexican government issued a statement that said, in part (in translation),

“It should be noted that recent reports of outbreaks of “Salmonella” in the U.S., allegedly linked to Mexican papaya, cannot be linked with certainty to those papayas inspected [by FDA] in Mexico during the May to August 2011 investigation period.”

It would appear that very little has changed in the last year.

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